Sunday, February 28, 2010

VC: 2009 Review, Dog Park, Economic Sustainability, Green Space, New Clerk

<-- That's Marina Abramovic, a New York artist and self-described "grandmother of performance art," eating an onion in a short Dutch film called, "The Onion" (1996)

Dear People: The meeting tomorrow night (3/1, 7 pm, Council Chambers) should be fairly straightforward. We'll begin, however, with a quick reminder that our major budget workshop for the year is next Saturday, March 6, from 9:30 to 12:30 in Council Chambers.

As of this writing, the Council Packet is not online (it arrived later than usual so I suspect time simply ran out for our limited staff); however, I am hopeful that it will be put online before the meeting Monday evening, on the "Council Packet" page of the Village website.


To the Springfield City Mgr thanking him for his time at the last VC mtg, raising further questions re: jet noise
To VC, re: green space fund expenditures, supporting VC's use of the funds for the two projects on tonight's agenda.
(This is in addition to perhaps a dozen supportive letters received before the last meeting. Another citizen and former council person expressed general support for green space but caution about too much Green Space funding in a letter just prior to the last meeting.)
To VC: the Environmental Commission submits a report, recommending that we cease adding fluoride to the drinking water.
I will ask that this document be posted online and made publicly available. I believe that the EC has also written asking us to add this to our next Council agenda.
To V. Mgr: Thanks from a senior citizen who appreciated the help of three village employees who took the time to help push her car
out of a snow bank on Rice Rd.
NewsRelease: AMP is starting construction on the 2nd Hydroelectric Project, in which we are an investor,
at Smithland Locks and Dam in Kentucky.


Ordinance: First reading: Economic Sustainability Commission.
As a result of the last meeting's discussion, and in consultation with our village solicitor, this ordinance has been simplified and clarified in some ways from the most recent version of the proposal drafted by Judith Hempfling. The ordinance establishes a body of seven persons, including a designated rep from both the School Board and the Planning Commission, as well as ex-oficio representatives (one or two) from Council and the Economic Sustainability Coordinator (i.e., Sarah Wildman). Their first main task would be to serve as a sounding and development board for the Economic Development Plan that Sarah is tasked with creating. I support this board, with some reservations. I have asked that we carefully review its efforts, particularly after the first year, to see if this approach to our goal of improving the Village's economic health seem to be working.

Resolution: Authorizing the Village Manager to release Green Space Funds for the Purchase of Conservation Easements on the Semler and Fulton (aka Fogg) Farms. I support this release of funds.

Resolution: Appointing a new Clerk of Council. I am pleased to announce that Judith O. Kintner has accepted our offer of this position, and will begin work immediately upon the passage of this resolution. It was a very strong, competitive pool of candidates. We are very fortunate to have someone as capable, on so many levels, as Judy is, to take on this role, and with such a deep knowledge of the village as a whole.

THANKS, DENISE: Let me also take this moment to publicly thank Denise Swinger for her extraordinary efforts on our behalf in her service as acting Clerk during Deborah Benning's final illness and upon her passing. Denise had been helping out at the Village Clerk's office for quite some time, first as an unpaid volunteer and then as a part-time, minimally paid file clerk assisting Deborah; she stepped into this position at our request in our time of deepest need. It was not easy for her family to have her working so many hours, particularly so many evening hours. (And this past month alone has been a doozy--with a total of six Council meetings, a few extremely long ones, plus a Planning Commission meeting, in its four short weeks!) Additionally, she has generously agreed to help train our new Clerk, Judy; I know that her efforts will help ease the transition in a multitude of ways. Please extend your thanks to Denise (and her family) for her exceptional service to our Village.

2009 ANNUAL REPORT: Mark Cundiff


Dog Park Location Decision:
The proposal is now to put a dog park in on the western part of the Gaunt Park water tower site. There will be a small dog area and a large dog area, separated by rail fence and chicken wire. There's no water fountain in this area, and it's somewhat distant from existing parking. Mgr. Cundiff proposes that a future senior project might be fundraising for this purpose. I support this location for this park.
Home, Inc. Hook-Up Fee Waiver Request: Marianne MacQueen asks that we consider waiving "utility tap and zoning permit fees on all permanently affordable homes" that are built in the village. (MacQueen's memo only address's permanently affordable homes that Home, Inc., builds, but I believe any resolution to this effect would need to be applied to all organizations or individuals who create permanently affordable homes.)
Energy Task Force: Review and Revise ETF's Charge, Membership, & Duties: Mark Cundiff submits the following suggestions based on an ETF discussion dated Feb. 8: 1) Make the V. Mgr. a non-voting member; 2) Establish a membership limit of 5 but not more than 9. (Legally, however, we may have to choose a specific number); 3) 2 Council Members as voting members (currently 1); 4) Change the designation from "Task Force" to "Board" or "Commission." Because we own our electrical utility and energy concerns seem to be perpetual, the work is greater than a "task force." To avoid acronym confusion with the EC, Environmental Commission, they suggest "Board."
Appointments to Council's Commisisons/Committees/Boards & Task Forces: We have persons willing to fill six of the current openings on our supporting committees; there are still openings on the HRC (1), EC (1), ETF (the number depends on the decision, above); Library (1).
Council Goals 1-3: Review: We're doing a final honing of these goals, which I believe look pretty good.


2010 Employee Wage Increase:
Our current formula for determining staff wage increases calculates inflation in such a way that, in the current climate, it underestimates the increased cost of living and results in very small cost of living increases--this year's would be 0.675% (last year's would have been 0.25%). Mark Cundiff has submitted a report on a survey of Greene County public employers' and municipalities' employee wages, union and non-union, to determine what would be a more fair cost of living increase. He suggests that we raise it to the average of all those employee wage increases, i.e., 2.15%. This would follow our practice from last year, so I support this change. We are planning to update our employee manual and compensation system this year, and are very fortunate to have Mark's experience in Human Resources to guide and inform this task.



In honor of Women's History Month, I give you a poem by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate of England, the first open lesbian to hold the post. The poem is perhaps a couple weeks late, but it's so awesome, and the sentiment so ...unsentimental!
Valentine  by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.

It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,

if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

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